Ice Dams: 5 Things You Need to Know

What causes ice dams? The answer can be summed up with two words: Heat Loss.

Iowa winters are harsh and when the February chill hits many homes experience the damaging effects of ice dams. Here at HSI, we field calls weekly about ice dams and home comfort. We have listed 5 things you should know about ice dams, along with our interactive image slider.

Snow and the Freeze/Thaw Cycle

When there is a substantial amount of snow on a roof, warm air inside the attic causes snow to melt. Snow thaws and drains toward the eaves where it refreezes, forming a ledge that collects runoff that is trapped over the warmer part of the roof. Trapped water can back up under shingles and ruin roofing materials, pull away gutters, and even cause interior water damage.

Snow Melting on a roof in the winterIllustration of ice dam formation from heat loss
As the melted snow runs down the roof, it eventually reaches the roof edge, which causes the melted snow to refreeze and form an ice dam.

Thermal Bridging Through the Attic

Many Midwest homes have insufficient insulation, predominantly at junctions where the roof and attic floor meet. As heat is transmitted through joists and trusses, it warms the roof deck and melts the snow; that melted water runs down under the snow to the eves where it is no longer heated by internal elements, and it freezes again.

Thermal bridging occurs when heat is transferred from the attic to the roofUneven melting spots are the signs of thermal bridging on the roof
Thermal bridging happens when the flow of heat transfers through your home from one object to another.  Uneven melting occurs, often in signs like this example, above. 

Air Leakage

Drywall seams and wiring penetrations through ceilings are common problem areas, as the conditioned heat is transported by air leaks in these holes. This warms the attic and causes that same melting to occur.

Air leaks can occur from building penetrations, like electrical and pluming exitsAir Sealing up any holes will greatly reduce het loss in the home
Air leaks are commonly found throughout the construction of a building. We can air seal a wide variety of places like your plumbing and wiring penetrations through floors, walls, and ceilings to stop air leakage. 

HVAC equipment

Inefficient ductwork in the attic can contribute to ice damming. In addition to that, you are probably adding 25% to your energy costs by having heating and cooling ducts in what is seasonally the coldest part of the house.

Leaking HVAC ducts can contribute to major heat loss in your homeCompletely sealing and insulation your attic ductwork can ensure maximum efficiency of your HVAC system
The ducts within our homes function to carry air from the HVAC system through the home. These ducts, often have small gaps and cracks that allow air to seep through, meaning that you end up losing a significant amount of the air that you pay to heat or cool throughout the year.  

Can Lights and Recessed Lighting

Due to the amount of heat, they radiate; these lights can produce unwanted hot spots along the roofline. Rarely are they sealed and insulated properly, often times heating the air that can pass through.

Can Lights can radiate heat and are often not sealed.Our can light cover, seals and insulates.
Can lights are notorious for holes and gaps, allowing conditioned air from the living space to escape into the attic and eventually out of the house.  

How to Eliminate Ice Dams

How do you prevent ice dams on your home? The best way is to keep the roof surface as cold as the temperature outside, so snow won’t melt until the exterior temperature causes it. Our Solution team will air seal and insulate your attic ceiling.

Most Midwest houses have a minimal amount of attic insulation and an abundance of air leaks that allow conditioned air from the living space to escape into the attic. Our attic upgrade starts with air sealing the attic with our proprietary sealant, then installing a thick blanket of cellulose insulation. Our attic system will serve to eliminate heat loss through your roof.

Schedule A Free Heat Map Evaluation

Keep Your Home Protected From Ice Dams
with Home Solutions of Iowa

If you’ve dealt with ice dams on your home, Home Solutions of Iowa is here to help. Our local, experienced professionals will carefully assess your home and recommend the best insulation solutions for your problems. Call us today to set up a free heat map evaluation of your home today!

picture of a Heat Map evaluation on a winter home

If you’re looking for a way to keep your home warmer in the winter and more affordable all year long, Home Solutions of Iowa has the insulation services you need. Our complete home energy evaluation is designed to identify problem areas in your home.

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